Discs & Facet Joints
Vertebrae are connected by a disc and two small joints called facet joints. Facet joints allow the spine to bend and twist. Discs, which are cartilage pads, act as a spongy cushions between vertebrae to keep them from rubbing against one another. Discs are comprised of a hard outer core and soft inner core. They are mostly water and soft when young, and progressively lose water and become harder with age. Discs don’t have a blood supply. Instead, they get their nutrients and hydration in a fashion similar to a sponge, via a process called diffusion. Movement, especially as people age, is necessary to help diffusion and disc health. It is also worth noting that since discs don’t have a blood supply or an extensive nerve structure, they are unable to repair themselves when damaged. When vertebrae are thrown out of alignment, a condition called Subluxation, discs can be injured and/or their positions shifted. Either scenario can result in pain.